Speak No Evil; An interview with Ruben Gallego and Austin Jefferson of Abusive Language

The enigmatic Philadelphia-based Abusive Language is a four-piece cold-gaze post-rock band from who surfaced with a six-song, untitled release before ever playing a proper show. The mysterious project — started in late 2015 and consisting of Austin Jefferson, Ruben Gallego, Jon Weed and Alan Vito — is described by the band as what, “Johnny Cash would have sounded like if they listened to Sabbath and the Deftones.” However, as and outsider, a listen to the band reveals layers of shoegazing guitars, vocals that borrow a page from the playbooks of Nick Cave and Ian Curtis, and dense production that is at once familiar and unsettling.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Jefferson and Gallego to discuss the band’s origins, trying to fit their gear into a hatchback and chemistry.
How did Abusive Language come together and what has made it an endeavor worth pursuing?
Ruben Gallego: I feel like initially when Austin and I got into a room together the music happened really quickly and effortlessly. If you can get a group together that works organically I feel like you spend less time over thinking and just enjoying playing together.
Austin Jefferson: I agree. I love the music that we’ve produced but our chemistry is really what’s kept this project, as a band, going.
Abusive Language balances both garage rock and post-punk tendencies. Do you lean one way or another?
RG: I don’t know that I would have classified it as garage rock but I absolutely love garage rock. So if you got that maybe I’m to blame.
AJ: I try not to reference anything directly so I won’t say we lean towards a particular genre, at least intentionally.
That said, your sound is a bit of an enigma. How do you describe it to friends who haven’t heard you?
RG: I tell people it’s what Johnny Cash would have sounded like if they listened to Sabbath and the Deftones.
You guys recorded before you ever played live, correct?  Was that a deliberate decision?
RG: I’m not sure it was deliberate, at the time this band started I was busy with Beach Slang and that meant I was rarely around to play. The band actually played a show without me early on. But I’ve forgiven them.
AJ: Right, it just happened that way. We got together pretty sporadically, so we only had enough time to write. Once we had these six songs it made sense to jump right into recording given our limited availability.
When did you begin writing for untitled and what were you hoping to accomplish with it?
AJ: I wrote the foundation for the first songs a few years back and the rest of came to be after we started playing together. For me, the record is pretty self centered. I wanted the music to reflect some part of my looming negativity and conflict.
How did you determine Evan Bernard was the right person to work with?
AJ: I’ve known Evan for a long time. He’s always understood my musical intent and has similar tastes in things that sound big and fuzzy. When we made the decision to record these songs, I knew Evan would be perfect. For mixing and mastering we used Chris Baglivo (also of Big Mama’s Recording) and Ryan Schwabe respectively. They all share a long history of making great records together.

What are your proudest moments on the record?
AJ: I’m happy that, through writing and production, the songs are all distinguishable from one another and still cohesive as a whole
R: I’m especially proud of the ending I feel it’s a very climactic way to end a record. I think when we track it it ended up being like eight minutes long and we snipped it down to what it is.
Will you be touring in support of the release?
AJ: We have no dates currently lined up but we’re excited about the prospect of tour. Though, we might need to buy smaller amps before trying to fit everything in a hatchback.
What are your loftiest goals for Abusive Language?
AJ: I don’t have any lofty goals for Abusive Language. I never want to compromise our music for music business, so I tend to focus on the immediate next step and maintain a realistic outlook on things.
RG: I would be psyched to get back to Europe or maybe play some cool festivals. But I’m just happy to be playing out again.
AJ: For sure!
(Pick up Untitled here: https://abusivelanguage.bandcamp.com/album/untitled.)